By Doaa Farid
The first call for proposals funded by the European Union (EU) for projects by civil society organisations to improve informal areas in the Cairo and Giza governorates has been launched in a press conference on Sunday.
The conference was attended by representatives from the EU and the ministries of Planning and Social Solidarity.
A €20m grant scheme funded by the EU is a part of the Participatory Development Programme in Urban Areas (PDP), which is managed by Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Internationale Zusammernarbeit (GIZ) and has been operating in Egypt since 2004 to improve informal areas.
“According to studies, 11 million citizens are living in informal areas in Egypt [and are] lacking the suitable services and suffering unemployment,” said Guenther Wehenpohlm, the Programme Coordinator of GIZ’s PDP, adding that PDP aims to improve the living conditions and the environment in these areas by providing the needed technical assistance.
The first phase of the programme calls for a proposal for €1.5m and projects to improve the employability and vocational skills of the unemployed within those areas, promote income generating activities and improve the standard of services.
The informal areas targeted in Cairo are Ain Shams and Ezbet El-Nasr, and in Giza, El-Warraq and Masaken Geziret El-Dahab.
Head of Operations Section One in the EU delegation to Egypt Anna Lixi gave a speech at the conference, where she stated that the grant specifically came from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Financial Cooperation with Mediterranean Countries.
Lixi added that this programme demonstrates the EU’s aim to promote raising the living conditions of the millions of people who lack the proper services and access to drinking water in informal areas.
“The EU supported the role of civil society in Egypt and in particular the development of informal areas,” said Lixi.
Assistant to Minister of Social Solidarity Hany Mehana, a representative at the conference, said that the ministry has signed an agreement to cooperate with GIZ to contribute to the PDP to support non-governmental and civil society organisations by providing technical and financial facilities.
“We are looking for achieving social justice and human development; that’s why our aim is to develop the slums,” said Mehana. He added that the ministry is planning to develop ten informal areas, four of which are part of this programme.
Advisor to the Minister of Planning for Mega Projects Sameh El-Shazly said at the conference that the ministry encourages the participation of civil society in developing informal areas, noting that they have a major role in the implementation of the plans.
At the conference, General Secretary of Giza Governorate General Ahmed Hany stressed during his speech that efforts must be also be directed to rural development in addition to urban development, “so that rural residents feel that they are concerned”.
Hany added that this is the time for civil society organisations to participate in developing the society along with the government.